Continuing on with my passionate dislike for commentators and experts whose views are predicated on a ’five minute time span’, the argument rages as to who is the greatest male tennis player of all time?
Unlike cricket, where statistics validate the proposition that Don Bradman was the greatest batsman of all time, if not for any other reason then the fact that his average is twice that of anyone else who has have ever played cricket.
The tennis debate usually revolves around the number of “grand slam championships “ won by a player — and as a result, the winner of the most grand slam championships (ie, Wimbledon, Australian , French and American ) would be ‘ipso facto’ the greatest player of all time.
So, if Federer has won more grand slam championships than Sampras then Federer must be greater than Sampras. However if Federer cannot beat Nadal, who has not won as many grand slam championships as Federer – what then?
What a shallow basis for critical evaluation.
Now let us talk about Rodney Laver.
In 1962, Laver not only won some grand slam championships, he won all of them and in fact was only the second player in history to win the ‘Grand Slam’ that is all of the championships in one calendar year. (Bobby Riggs was the other player)
Rodney then turned professional and in those days professional tennis players were banned from competing in grand slam championships.
During the next seven years or so Rod, on the ‘professional circuit’, which then included the best players of their era, left nobody in doubt that he was the greatest player in the world.
In 1969, seven years after he won the Grand Slam, the ban on professional players was lifted and Rod was now permitted to enter grand slam championships again.
In that year Rodney Laver won the Grand Slam, that is, he won the Australian, French, Wimbledon and American Open Championships to become the only player to win the Grand Slam twice and until this day the winning of the Grand Slam has not been replicated once, let alone twice.
I wonder how many grand slam championships, Laver would have won over the period of seven years in which he was not allowed to compete. A period during which, he was regarded, without qualification, as the world’s best player.